What Every Homeowner Needs To Know About Powderpost Beetles

powderpost illustration

According to Merriam Webster, a powderpost beetle is this: any of several beetles (family Lycitdae) having larvae that feed in very dry wood or lumber and reduce the interior to powder. Probably not something you want to have in your home!

Out in nature, these beetles bore holes into dead wood; branches, stumps, logs, etc. Their job is to help in the decomposition of dead wood. But, when they get inside homes, they can't tell the difference between a dead tree and a two-by-four. And they certainly can't understand that we don't like it when they reduce our homes to powder.

The only indicator of this larvae's presence inside the wood of your home would be tiny pinholes (measuring around 1/16 to ⅛ of an inch) on the surface of wood, and a powder-like, sand-colored, sawdust (or frass) that comes out of these holes (which can be easily mistaken for other substances). That is why these insects are easy to miss, and why this pest is second only to termites in the amount of damage they do to wood annually.

Like the drywood termite, powderpost beetles attack hardwood. This especially makes them a danger to the fresh wood of a new home. And this fact is why many homeowners have their homes treated during construction. These beetles also attack hardwood furniture. If you have antiques or family heirlooms in your possession, you will want to protect them from these harmful insects.


Powderpost beetles are tiny insects that are around ⅛ to ¾ of an inch long. They are usually brown in color, have an elongated pill-shape, and are difficult to see because of their miniscule size. If you put a pencil tip next to a powderpost beetle, it will be barely wider than the tip. It is more likely you may see the tiny holes these insects create than the insects themselves.

Are Powderpost Beetles Harmful To Humans?

This question can be answered two ways. Yes and no. While they are not directly harmful to the health and well-being of humans, they can be indirectly harmful by destroying wooden structures in a home--or important objects. This can be harmful to the pocketbook and, therefore, harmful to humans.

How Much Damage Depends On What Type Of Beetle You Have

If you have powderpost beetles from the family lyctidae, you will see less damage to your home. You may find the larvae of these beetles doing damage to furniture, baseboards, bed frames, cabinets, backboards, shelves, and more. These beetles target wood that is less than five years old and is hardwood.

If the beetles you have are from the family anobiidae, you will probably have more issues. These beetles don't only damage hardwood, they can infest softwood as well. This means that they will target floor joists, wall studs, and other structural wood, which can cause damage with wide-reaching implications for a home. Any signs of powderpost beetles in a home warrants a call to a professional pest control company in order to protect your equity.

Powderpost Beetle Prevention tips

  • If rough-cut lumber is dried in a kiln, it will kill all stages of this beetle.
  • If wooden items are sanded and varnished, this will keep these beetles from being able to penetrate. Adults will not be able to find crevices in the wood surface in which to deposit their eggs.
  • Wooden items of value should not be stored in outbuildings such as barns or sheds. These structures may be infested with wood-boring beetles.
  • If you have a piece of furniture which is infested with powderpost beetles, it can be fumigated in a fumigation chamber. Note that only pest control operators who are licensed to do fumigations can purchase the materials which are necessary to do a fumigation for these beetles.

Thomas To The Rescue!

If you have seen these beetles or evidence of their larvae eating away at your home or belongings, reach out to Thomas Pest Services for professional assistance. It is not a good idea to allow these destructive insects to "reduce the interior (of your home) to powder!" Call for help today.

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